A dietitian ranks Australia’s most popular diets

The internet is great, but with SO much information can make you feel overwhelmed and it’s sometimes hard to know what’s good and bad information. This goes for eating well, too, so we asked dietitian Melissa Meier to tell us what she thinks about some of Google’s most-searched diets. 

Google the word ‘diet’ and you’ll get more than a billion results within milliseconds (yes, billion with a ‘b’). You clearly don’t need me to tell you the world is obsessed with what and how they eat.

But just because your favourite wellness guru, personal trainer or next-door neighbour swears by a particular way of eating, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

In fact, it’s probably the exact opposite. So, to set the record straight, here is my dietitian-approved ranking of the world’s five most-Googled diets, from best to worst.

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1. Intermittent fasting

It’s in the press a lot, but unlike the vast majority of fad diets, this one actually has some scientific legs to stand on.

Essentially, intermittent fasting dictates when rather than what you eat, which scores big points in my books because it’s more of a lifestyle change than an overly-restrictive eating plan.

While it’s not for everyone and can be a little uncomfortable (the #hangriness is real), intermittent fasting has been linked to everything from weight loss to improved metabolic health and even a healthier gut. It could be worth a try if shedding kilos is on your mind.

2. Slimming World diet

Hailing from the UK, this diet promotes itself as a flexible way of losing weight in which you never feel hungry. The Slimming World diet is loosely based on the dietary guidelines – fill up on nutritious whole foods and enjoy treats occasionally in moderation.

It claims to focus on the development of healthy habits, taps into social support groups and doesn’t involve counting calories, so it sounds relatively sensible to me.

3. Weight Watchers

The Weight Watchers program is based on a somewhat personalised online assessment of your goals and lifestyle that spits out a food plan involving a points system. Basically, different foods are worth different points, and you work out your daily intake based on your predetermined point budget.

On the plus side, the program incorporates movement and mindset, not just food, and supposedly works to ‘nudge’ people towards healthier choices. In saying that, however, I don’t encourage tracking each and every mouthful and move, so I wouldn’t recommend this as a long term, sustainable strategy.

4. Dukan diet

Another popular diet that puts carbs in the ‘bad guys’ basket, the Dukan diet is split into four phases involving high protein foods, vegetables and cheat meals – as well as a rather bizarre ‘stabilisation’ phase that includes three tablespoons of oat bran and a 20-minute (minimum) walk per day, plus one protein-only day per week.

Incredibly restrictive, unsustainable and nutritionally inadequate are three things that come to mind when I think of the Dukan diet.

Apart from cutting out a huge number of foods unnecessarily, a major gripe for me is the inclusion of ‘cheat meals’. This feeds into the notion that certain foods are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, which can create an unhealthy relationship with food. I’m really not a fan.

5. Keto diet

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know the keto diet as *the* diet of 2019. Essentially, it’s ultra-low-carb, moderate in protein and high in fat – the idea is that you deplete your body of all carbohydrate stores, so it kicks into fat-burning mode.

It sounds great, but the diet is incredibly restrictive, with almost every carb-containing food shunned within an inch of its life. Considering that some of the healthiest foods on the planet are carb-rich (think: whole grains, legumes, fruit), I’d recommend you keep the carbs and give keto the flick.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practicing dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.